Written by Tony Pease, Founder & CEO of Carimus
The best way to thank someone for their service is to be of service.
As I get older, I think more and more about the fact that the United States is an all-volunteer service. When I was in the Navy, it didn’t really sink into me how important it was that everyone I served with chose to be there. The United States formally adopted the all-volunteer force in 1973 after the war in Vietnam. While there are 100 or so countries in the world that still require compulsory military service, I’m really glad we aren’t one of them.
This brings us to Veterans Day. It’s a good time to remind people that Veterans Day is different from Memorial Day. Veterans Day honors all who have served in the military. Memorial Day is to honor the memory of those who died in service to the country. It is appropriate to honor those who died in service to the country on both Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
How to thank a Veteran. It is very common to hear, ‘Thank you for your service’. To be honest, it’s a little difficult to respond to that. I know many of my peers and I have discussed how to respond with gratitude and humility and have come to the conclusion that “It was my privilege” is a good canned response.
For this veterans day, I was reflecting on what I would really want people to do on Veterans Day to honor those who have served and I have a few ideas.
- Volunteer – Celebrate the fact that your freedoms are protected by those who volunteer to serve by volunteering to serve in your community. I might recommend the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans https://nchv.org/.
- Send letters or Goodies to those deployed – There is nothing better than a mail call on a long deployment. It is a lifeline to normalcy and may provide a much-needed but simple comfort that makes a world of difference. Check out Operation Gratitude https://www.operationgratitude.com/. This site will help you coordinate a letter writing or care package. Many of our military members will be deployed during the holiday and this is a great way to help them not feel so isolated. Candy, magazines, comic books, and hot sauce were some of my personal favorites.
- Visit a Museum or Memorial – Encourage you and your family to spend time learning and reflecting on the impact our service men and women have made on our country and the world.
- Support your Wounded Warriors – The Wounded Warrior Project is a great place to start. The WWP started as a small grass roots program to provide comfort and simple care to Wounded military members. Today, the WWP is committed to help combat wounded veterans transition and adapt to the next chapter of their live as independent and successful citizens. Learn more at https://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/.
Lastly, be open-minded about whether or not military service is right for you or a member of your family. For us to remain a strong and vibrant all-volunteer force, we need to be willing to keep our ranks filled with our best and brightest.
There is a quote I heard recently, “Military has a job for everyone, but everyone isn’t for the military.” There are a lot of great programs that will provide the best training opportunities in the world and I think we owe it to all of our Veterans, Past, Present, and Future, to ensure that when they are in the worst of it, the person to their right and left chose to be there with them.